Monday, March 10, 2014

Needs looked into

Colin Hay
Last week on "A Prairie Home Companion," the radio show, Colin Hay was a guest performer.  The onetime leader of Men At Work, now working as a solo performer, told the story of playing to a "packed house of 200" at a theater in his Scottish home town.  He was on the stage between songs when the stage door opened, and from outside came two women, who said that a car was blocking theirs in next door in the alley.  Colin said he told them he was doing a show just then, and they allowed as how they could see that, but that "the car needs shifted right now."

Needs shifted.  I've been hearing that sort of construction lately, sentences in which the infinitive "to be" gets tossed to the ground like that yellow paper that McDonald's wraps around a cheeseburger.  I hear "that wall needs painted," "the price of gas needs lowered," and "the pipeline needs built right away because there is absolutely no reason not to" all the time.  

I hear it when we drive up over the line into Pennsylvania, where the wonderful folks called the Pennsylvania Dutch have a lot of interesting sayings, such as "get the garage red up" (clean up the garage) and "let's put dinner away" (let's wash the dishes and pots and pans.)  But I never have heard it from an English-speaking non-American context, and as they say up in Amish Country, it wonders me!

And for those wondering, yes, this is how I spend my time nowadays, perusing the etymology of words and phrases.  F'rinstance, the appendix of a book...that you might have removed...or your own, which a surgeon may Latin, "appendix" means "the part that hangs." A human appendix hangs off the end of the large intestine; appendices hang around the tail end of books. 

I just learned that, in the appendix of a book.  

No comments: